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Fine Art Prices Are Falling, but Photo Prices Are Rising


If you’ve been thinking about starting a fine art photography collection, now may not be a bad time to start that investment. While most types of fine art are seeing prices plunge, photography is actually growing in clout among art collectors and investors.

The Guardian reports that fine art has seen prices fall 6.2% over just the past year. 19-century art is selling at auction for 40% less than it was before the financial crisis of 2007–2008, and modern and impressionist art is down about 12% from that 2007 peak.

The data is from Coutts, a leading private bank and wealth management firm, which also found that photography has emerged from other types of fine art as one of the hottest new targets for collectors as of late.

Last November, a 1990 photo by Thomas Struth showing museum goers at the Art Institute of Chicago sold for a whopping £600,890 (~$777,000), multiple times its original estimate of £100,000-150,000 (~$132,000-$198,000).

This Struth photo sold for over $777,000 at auction in November 2016.

Other photos by Gilbert & George, Robert Mapplethorpe and Andreas Gurksy have all sold recently for over $400,000 each, The Guardian says.

“It is definitely one of our fastest-growing categories,” Sotheby’s auctioneer Brandei Estes tells The Guardian. “It’s the nature of the work; it is the most democratic of art forms and because of the relatively accessible price points, it’s an attractive category for the growing middle market.”

So if you have some money to invest and a passion for art collecting, you might want to take a closer look at photography.

Image credits: Header illustration based on photo by Samuel Zeller